Laughing is good for health, this is a fact, and if there were not two thousand years of austere philological comments, it would be said that Aristotle, with catharsis, also understood this, that “laughter that will bury you all”; moreover, from mythology to the star system, from the Ancient Comedy to the stand up comedy, the comic appears not so much as sharpness or drunkenness (as Witz or as excess of spritz), but rather and always as a paradoxical (“intelligent”) relationship behavior.

  • Aims and content

      The course, through a rich and articulated theory of exempla, aims to train students to appreciate the mechanisms of theatrical comedy, understood as a physical act and a relationship behavior, player presence and show project; empirical science that perhaps hides within itself the very secret of the historical and functional genesis of theater.


      In particular, the course aims to develop in the students some skills in relation to theatrical comedy: the ability to appreciate their intensity and quality; to distinguish between humor and comedy, word and action; to recognize in the comic effect the contribution of sharing among the spectators; to reconstruct the role of the dynamics of carnival lowering and/or reversal; to develop sensitivity to the function of rhythm.


      Looking at and commenting on the theatrical performances of great comic actors, we’ll talk about experiences (Petrolini, Govi, Totò, Grock, Moretti, Fo, Benigni, Proietti, others), techniques (physical and verbal comedy: entrées and stunts; grammelot and “bad words”; the mask), comic topoi (among all the descensus ad infera at the origins of the professional theater, from the fools to the Harlequin devil); but also about ideas (Baudelaire, Freud, Bergson, Pirandello, Bataille, Bachtin, Brecht) and a short history (from the Commedia dell'Arte to the proliferation in puppets, in the circus, in the cabaret, in the beginning cinema); with brief hints to the contribution of writing (the “comedy”: from Aristophanes to Michael Frayn).


      Mandatory texts for 6 CFU

      G. Celati, Finzioni occidentali. Fabulazione, comicità e scrittura, Torino, Einaudi, 1975

      E. Marinai, Il comico nel teatro delle origini, Pisa, Titivillus, 2003

      Mandatory texts for 9 CFU

      G. Celati, Finzioni occidentali. Fabulazione, comicità e scrittura, Torino, Einaudi, 1975

      E. Marinai, Il comico nel teatro delle origini, Pisa, Titivillus, 2003

      S. De Matteis, Il teatro delle varietà. Lo spettacolo popolare in Italia, Firenze, la Casa Usher, 2008

      Other recommended essays

      M. Bachtin, L’opera di Rabelais e la cultura popolare, Torino, Einaudi, 1979

      C. G. Jung, P. Radin, K. Kerenyi, Il briccone divino, Milano, Bompiani, 1979

      V. Pandolfi, Copioni da quattro soldi, Firenze, Landi [1958]

      Other recommended pieces

      Aristofane, La pace (Εἰρήνη)

      Plauto, Pseudolo (Pseudolus)

      Terenzio, L’eunuco (Eunuchus)

      Adam de la Halle, Le jeu d’Adam

      Ruzante, Betìa

      Flaminio Scala, Il marito (canovaccio)

      Molière, L’improvvisazione di Versailles (L’impromptu de Versailles)

      Carlo Goldoni, Truffaldino servitore di due padroni

      Georges Feydeau, Maurice Desvallières, L'albergo del libero scambio (L’hôtel du libre échange)

      Tristan Rémy, Entrate clownesche (Entrées clownesques)

      Ettore Petrolini, Teatro

      Eduardo De Filippo, Sik sik artefice magico

      Dario Fo, Mistero buffo

      Michael Frayn, Rumori fuori scena (Noises off)

      URL Aula web
  • Who
  • How

      Lectures, with the aid of audiovisual material and practical exercises.


      The evaluation will be in equal parts (3/3) a) on learning the informative contents of the prescribed texts, b) on the ability to critically process their contents, and c) on the personal in-depth study.

  • Where and when
    • It is recommended to contact the teacher for bibliographic indications or materials related to the lessons; to solve any problems in the availability of texts; to agree on motivated changes to the program.

  • Contacts